Thinking of selling my MES 30

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by johnmeyer, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Well, after an intense four months of doing lots of smoking, building and then buying mods (the AMNPS) and trying out all sorts of ideas, I have come to the conclusion that the MES is not capable of producing a satisfying end product. The main problem is that the smoke taste is bitter and numbing, a sure sign of creosote. I have not been able to find a way around this.

    Things I have tried:
    • I have always kept the vent open;
    • I have tried hot smokes (225 and above) and colder smokes (140-180).
    • I bought the AMNPS and have used both pellets and dust in that contraption;
    • I have tried using water in the pan, and then no water in the pan;
    • I have tried chilling the food before putting it in the smoker, and then tried putting room temperature food in the smoker
    • I have put chips in the smoker as soon as I have started it, and have waited until it is at full hear before adding chips.
    • I have read hundreds and hundreds of posts in this forum
    Reluctantly I conclude that the underlying concept behind this method of smoking is fatally flawed because it doesn't move much air/smoke past the food, and contains everything inside the smoker for way too long a time, allowing all the bad parts of the smoke to adhere to food (and the inside of the smoker). I've now read several articles about how much air/smoke moves through this box compared to, say, an offset smoker, and there is a several order of magnitude (i.e., more than 10x) difference.

    I don't have the time or space to get a "real" smoker, so this will also be my exit from the art of smoking.

    The one thing I will miss is this forum. It is one of the best on the Internet, and I have really enjoyed my brief time here.

    John Meyer

    Carmel, CA
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sorry to hear that.

    At this point I don't think anything I say will change your mind.

    However for me giving up is not an option in anything I do.

    Hopefully you will reconsider and give it another go.

  3. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Which model do you have ?
  5. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I too pride myself on not giving up. Having said that, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Or another one from the business world: Sometimes you have to "cut your losses."

    Both of these illustrate that the pride of never giving up is sometimes not a virtue.
    The mailbox mod is the one thing I haven't tried, and I can certainly understand how it might help. I'm weighing the time and effort (and small investment) to build that vs. the possibility that it may not help because of the basic overall design flaw in the concept of taking a college dorm refrigerator and turning it into a smoker. Based on all the reading I've done the last few days, one of the major issues with the MES design is the extremely small amount of air/smoke that goes through it compared to most other, older, more conventional smokers. This radically alters the smoke deposition characteristics.
    I purchased all  my pellets directly from Todd (I'm going to have quite a nice supply left when I sell this). I read about the issues of using Traeger and other heating pellets, so I wasn't even tempted to go with them.
    The exact model of my Masterbuilt is: MODEL 20070910. It is a 30" MES, which was given to me in early November and, apparently, was purchased from Amazon. AFIK, there is nothing broken or defective with the unit itself.
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    johnmeyer- I think several members on this forum can help you out with your MES. But if not, and you still want to smoke good, there are inexpensive offsets available. On the electric side there are those from Cookshack, Smokin-it, and SmokinTex. No mods necessary. Just something to think about. Good luck. Dave
  7. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks. I'll take a look at them.
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You're somehow getting too much. That's exactly what causes the taste problems you've described. What's the average number of hours per smoke have the AMNPS going? I had the same problem when I first started smoking while using wood chips. After I switched to wood pellets that problem went away unless I left meat in contact with smoke for over 11 hours in my MES 30 Gen 1. This is a situation where it';d be nice if you had a buddy familiar with the MES and the AMNPS observing while you smoke. I've had my MES for over 3 years and I get great smoke that enhances the food and doesn't overpower it. I cold smoked cheeses before Thanksgiving and they turned out to be the best I've ever done.
  9. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Well anything is possible, and I sure could be wrong, but I don't think I'm getting too much smoke. I seldom see more than a few wisps of smoke coming out the fully open exhaust.

    The number of hours I have the AMNPS going depends on the smoke. Yesterday I did three separate smokes, in this order:
    • Jerky - Two hours at 160; finished off in convection oven at 140 for five hours (my poor-man's dehydrator). Used Todd's "Pitmaster Blend" pellets in the AMNPS
    • Salmon - Almost four hours, most of it at 160, but I increased the temp (to about 185) at the end to get the salmon to 145. Used Todd's apple sawdust.
    • Almonds - Two hours at 225. I used apple chips in the MES, feeding it about every 35 minutes. I did not use the AMNPS for this smoke.
    It is the almonds that are my "canary in the coal mine." Someone suggested to me that I should smoke crackers so I can taste the smoke, without any other flavors interfering. Almonds (with a brown sugar/cinnamon coating) do have flavors of their own, but there is very little interaction with protein or fat layers the way there is with meat, chicken and fish, so the smoke flavor shines through pretty clearly. It is these almonds that often have a tongue-numbing quality, and which really don't taste quite right. I actually threw out my first batch, back in December, but kept at it, adjusting everything I could think of, and reading lots of posts here and elsewhere. I've done them over half a dozen times now, but the smoke still doesn't taste very good.

    Right after I got the MES, I did cold smoke some cheese. I initially tried cold-smoking cheese with my own external smoking attachment, but threw that cheese out  because even after a few weeks of mellowing in the fridge, it was still inedible. About three weeks ago I cold-smoked some gouda, right after I got the AMNSP. It is about time to break that open and see what it tastes like. The initial tasting out of the smoker was not promising, but we'll see.

    I'm trying to talk myself into doing a mailbox mod, but if I do that, perhaps I should try to clean off the varnish layer inside the smoker to get rid of any bad stuff that has built up. I don't know if that is worth doing, or if it is even possible.
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I just saw the first sentence of my comment was in complete. I then read your sentence  I seldom see more than a few wisps of smoke coming out the fully open exhaust. The problem is with the lack of airflow with your smoker, trapping the smoke inside. With my MES 30 Gen 1 I see TBS to heavier smoke rising up through my wide open top vent. When I open the door to move meat around or to foil it smoke comes out but no more than is to be expected. Todd Johnson wrote in either this thread or another one that lack of airflow is still a problem in the 2.0 and 2.5 models. This is why I'm, glad I've stuck with my cheapo little guy. The Q I've produced over the past 3 years that I've been using wood pellets in the AMNPS has won me a bunch of praise. I know how to control how much exposure to smoke food gets inside my MES. But my smoker is much different from yours.

    I don't think a mailbox mod is the answer for you. The AMNPS is producing more than enough smoke. Your MES is just doing a poor job of moving it at the vent. That's a design problem. Beyond that I have no answers for you other than contact Masterbuilt and see what they advise or are willing to do for you.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
  11. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've always wondered if the MES units need more exhaust and intake vents to help move the air/smoke.
  12. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I did post, in some other threads, my mod to take care of that. I replace the chip loader with a duct elbow that has a tin can attached to it. In the end of the tin can, I drilled five holes that are larger in diameter than the three holes in the chip loader. This provides several times the amount of air that can make its way through the chip loader holes. I've shown this pic before, but here it is again. The crinkled end goes into the chip loader hole.

  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The Gen 1 units don't, at least my MES 30 doesn't.
  14. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    In your Gen 1,  how do you set your chip loader and chip tray?  1-2" out?
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, John. I'm really not on SMF all that much so I miss a lot of posts. So, you're saying that this mod didn't solve the problem?

    It would really bother me to buy a smoker for which I had to go out and spend extra money and time manufacturing mods to solve its inherent problems. Maybe I just lucked out with my little MES 30 since it does exactly what I want and need it to do without any mods. From what I've read the newer units are hit-and-miss in quality and performance. I know that Bear loves his MES 40 BT 2.5, though.
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I leave the chip tray in; don't even touch it. With the chip loader I have usually left it 1-2" out but then I've smoked with it in for a while now with it fully closed with no problems so I don't touch that either. My MES 30 has been problem free except for my occasional user errors.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
  17. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BTW johnmeyer,

    If you're smoking in the near future and need a taste tester and 2nd opinion,,,,,,,,,road trip!  I'll bring some Salmon I just smoked in my MES40 this past weekend.
  18. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Well, it's only 1:45 from your place to here (I used to work at a Menlo Park VC on Sand Hill and had an apartment opposite the shopping center. I timed the trip every week when I went up on Monday and came home on Friday. Also, my two kids went to the big school near you, and I timed all those trips).

    I'm going to give the inside a good cleaning and see if I can remove what I think is a creosote buildup. I read about 100 posts this morning about the pros and cons of cleaning the walls on an MES, with most people saying that it is not needed. However, I have a LOT of shiny buildup which seems pretty thick for a smoker that has only done about 25-30 smokes in its three month existence, and that "varnish" doesn't have the pleasant smell of a northern Wisconsin fishing lodge (a smell I remember from my 1950s childhood).

    I put water and vinegar in a tray and have it heating for two hours at 275 after which I'll use alcohol, a BBQ spray-on cleaner and lots of rags to get as much of the top shiny layer off as I can. I'll do that while it is still pretty warm. I'll the heat it up again -- dry this time (no water or vinegar) -- to remove the moisture and re-season it.

    I'll then try a few more smokes, using only the AMNPS for the smoke source.
  19. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    The mod provides extra air for the AMNPS. I've not had any problems with it going out since I added that, and it seems doesn't seem to "thin out" the smoke too much, although without a window I really can't make that statement with 100% certainty.
  20. Are you covering the drip pan with foil? If so did you poke a hole where the drain is so air can flow into the smoker?

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